Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Dana Gardner, Fouad Khalil, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Harry Trott

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Microservices Expo

Cloud Security: Article

After WikiLeaks, What's Next for Document Compliance Management?

A discussion with Brainloop CEO Peter Weger

The WikiLeaks security fiasco has shed a lot of light on document security and its inherent irony: namely that the more confidential a document is, the more it's likely to be shared. Web Security Journal reached out to the CEO of Brainloop, Peter Weger, to discuss document compliance management as a risk mitigation strategy.

Web Security Journal: What security issues do you see becoming more pervasive in the coming months?

Peter Weger: A frequently unaddressed challenge is that companies’ most confidential documents are often those that travel the most outside the enterprise. Business depends on sharing information in collaborative processes like coordination among board members; working with research, supply and distribution partners; and communications with outside experts such as external counsel, consultants, auditors and regulatory authorities. However the more a document has to be accessed outside the corporate network, the greater the risk of leakage, so a company’s most sensitive documents are at much greater risk than other documents.

Web Security Journal: How do most businesses enable collaboration today?

Email continues to be the most common method used for information sharing and communication. Organizations tend to collaborate through this ubiquitous technology, sending emails to their employees, partners, suppliers and customers. These emails, of course, include content, attachments and links, some of which contain sensitive information.

To supplement email functionality, individual departments sometimes acquire Cloud-based collaboration applications, often without advice from corporate IT on the selection, vetting or implementation of these services. These systems provide rudimentary content storage, distribution and work flow that email lacks.


Web Security Journal:
Where do the current methods fall short?

Weger: To state the obvious, email was not designed to be a real-time, multi-user, secure collaboration system. We know that email makes it extremely easy for security policies to be bypassed. A simple “reply all” can find an employee, either unintentionally or maliciously, sending sensitive information to one or more unintended recipients. Email and any attachments that arrive at the recipient’s mail client could be forwarded to other parties that may not have the right or need to view the information. In this latter instance, the organization that owned the data may never find out that this unexpected data sharing activity took place.

Most commercially-available Cloud-based collaboration offerings were purpose-built with a simple, primary objective of sharing information; security became an afterthought for most products. This becomes a serious risk when you consider that these products typically leave the control of the policy and access to the data in the hands of the collaboration solution provider. Some of the top-performing solutions have attempted to wrap security around the content in such a way that end users can apply document protections, requiring them to define the classification and sharing policies themselves. Of course, by putting the decision into the hands of end users with no experience in defining policy, and without the perspective of the company’s central policy standard, poor decisions could be made and sensitive data still exposed to unauthorized access and misuse. Organizations with hundreds of users have no way to ensure consistent application of security measures. In addition to putting their own documents at risk, using unsecure collaboration applications may result in companies violating their contractual obligations to protect their partners’ confidential information.

To address some of these risks, organizations continue to make significant investments in the various perimeter security technologies designed to prevent information from leaving the organization. Some of the technologies used include firewalls, network intrusion prevention systems (IPS), data loss/leak prevention (DLP) and more. The main problem with this ‘protect the perimeter’ approach is that these products focus on protecting at the infrastructure layer, not on the information itself, which must travel outside the network in order for the company to function. This effectively still leaves the user in control of the information’s destiny, which usually leads to the dangerous choice of expedience over security.


Web Security Journal:
What is DCM and how does it fit in?

Weger: Document Compliance Management is a discipline that proactively manages information risk arising from sharing documents electronically.

As organizations move more of their information management processes outside the firewall to the extended enterprise, end users’ demands for collaboration come into conflict with corporate demands to protect information through consistent policy application and control over distribution. DCM seeks to reconcile these demands by creating security provisions that move with documents throughout their lifecycles, both inside and outside the network.


Web Security Journal:
What are some of its applications?

Weger: Organizations that are struggling to collaborate while meeting their regulatory, compliance and governance requirements are grappling with the issues Document Compliance Management addresses. Ultimately, these organizations want to collaborate and transact securely within their communities of trust. Regulatory auditors will look for a complete audit trail that captures the entire lifecycle of the organization’s sensitive information; who had access to which documents at which point in time.

Consider the scenario in which inside counsel is required to work with outside counsel, each sharing sensitive legal documents with their counterparts on the other end. They need to maintain control over their documents after they have left the corporate network and they are required to keep a full audit trail of all document activity. They may deal with documents of varying levels of sensitivity, and need an easy way for end users to apply the appropriate controls to each document.

Another example is the Human Resources team collaborating with healthcare providers, financial services providers, state and federal tax entities, and more. Again, the documents need to be shared with trust and a full audit trail must be available to ensure that employees’ personal information has been protected as it passes to external parties. Some key components of this audit trail must document which information has been provided to which business partner, and whether or not they were able to print it, save it locally, or forward it to other people.


Web Security Journal:
Why not just block all access by default?

Weger: Looking historically at security, most responses to attacks, breaches or compliance exceptions have been to shut down the operation or block the action. Years ago, when organizations experienced viruses running wild through their email systems, they simply shut down email until the problem was resolved. If they were worried about data leaving via USB sticks, they would blanket block the use of USB ports throughout the entire organization. We see this same model being applied to data protection within the collaboration space -- classify data as being sensitive and block it from being shared.

This model fails miserably. A block-by-default policy goes against the business models of today, which rely on employees, partners, suppliers, legal counsel, and other outside parties who must collaborate with each other using sensitive information.

Therefore, the main goal for DCM is to provide a secure means for end users to collaborate within corporate and regulatory policy for all approved parties, both inside and outside the organization. Corporate policy makers should risk rank business processes, define security policies and classifications, and roll them out to end users in a secure collaboration platform. This would ensure the proper use of documents, doing so in a way that is easy and transparent for the end user, without putting the end user in the unenviable position of having to make policy decisions. It must be simple enough that users will be comfortable doing their jobs within the systems they are already familiar with, as opposed to working around a protected system that is blocking them from collaborating.


Web Security Journal:
What should an organization consider when implementing DCM?

Weger: Organizations should try to include these features in their own DCM programs:

  1. Centralized data classification, policy definition, and policy enforcement capabilities
  2. Enables end users to do their job without having to think about security, doing so without making them work outside of their existing business processes
  3. Is flexible enough to support a variety of business processes to prevent the proliferation of disparate point solutions, and can be easily integrated with the company’s existing ecosystem.

Organizations tend to focus on the tactical problems they face with data protection and often look to solve them with technology delivered by their traditional perimeter security vendor. If an organization really wants to be successful in enabling secure business collaboration, they must approach the problem at the document/information level; develop a plan to define and enable their end users, partners, and others to securely collaborate within the boundaries of their internal and/or regulatory constraints.

More Stories By Peter Weger

Peter Weger is CEO of Cambridge, Mass-based Brainloop, a document security vendor. He has 25 years of management experience at companies such as Software AG, Portal Software, Borland and Network Associates. \

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.